As the Red Sox continue their negotiations with GM Theo Epstein, the Boston Herald’s Tony Massaroti accuses Boston president Larry Lucchino of burying his young protege.
Lucchino (above) seems to fancy himself as a maker of men, a Bill Walsh of baseball who has blessed the game with select disciples. He likes to take credit for most everything his followers do “ from San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers to Epstein “ and all is well and good until the boys become men, until they want to actually have an identity.
When that happens “ and it is happening here now “ Lucchino pounds his fist and puts those disrespectful little twits in their place, just to remind them that Big Daddy brought them into this world and he can certainly take them out.
In the interest of disclosure, let us rewind for a moment. In the last few days, most recently in the Globe (which has more invested in the Red Sox than anyone but John Henry), it has been reported that Epstein rejected the Sox’ latest contract offer, though the sides continue to talk and are expected to have some resolution in the next day or so. The latest proposal was for three years at $1.2 million per, which is the kind of information that comes out when real negotiations have given way to mud-slinging and damage control.
That said, some things need to be made clear. The first is that the media is a very dirty business; on some level, we are all compromised. The second, as one longtime observer once pointed out, is that Lucchino is a political animal. The Globe owns the Red Sox which means the Red Sox own the Globe, which is not a criticism as much as it is a statement of fact. The same is true of WEEI, or at least parts of it, which is currently in negotiations for Red Sox broadcast rights and compensates Lucchino for a weekly radio segment.
So, for an assortment of reasons, the two most powerful media outlets in New England are not about to challenge the words or methods of Lucchino and the Red Sox. (Not really.) And that is OK so long as we recognize there are conflicts of interest everywhere now and the truth will be distorted as a result of it.
That is why, as much as ever, we should hope this remains a two-newspaper town.
All of that brings us back to the Red Sox, Epstein and Lucchino, the latter of whom’s behavior is growing astonishingly predictable. When the Red Sox failed in the Alex Rodriguez negotiations “ and thank goodness for that “ Lucchino blamed the players’ union. When the Red Sox traded Nomar Garciaparra, members of the Red Sox (guesses, anyone?) leaked information to make the shortstop out to be the villain. And now, in the worst transgression of all, Red Sox management is smearing one of its own in the most sacrosanct negotiation, one that should have been conducted exclusively within the gilded walls of the front office at 4 Yawkey Way.
No matter the ownership, in the often petty and sometimes tactless history of the Red Sox, this is a new low.
(a heavily sedated animal, above, with Siegfried. In the center, a big scary tiger)
From Court TV’s Lisa Sweetingham.
The bodyguard who once protected tiger tamer Roy Horn of the Siegfried & Roy magic duo claims that Siegfried Fischbacher is a “tyrant” who overmedicates and humiliates the ailing Horn, who is still recovering from a tiger-mauling incident.
“Siegfried was a tyrant and had loud, explosive outbursts at the plaintiff and at Roy,” says the civil suit filed by Louis Mydlach, a former Siegfried & Roy insider.
“[Fischbacher] forced Roy to take medication, even when Roy begged to not be medicated,” the suit claims.
Siegfried is also accused of refusing to hire competent medical workers to look after Horn’s day-to-day needs, and painting a picture in the media of the “amazing physical rehabilitation of Roy” when those close to the star knew “it was all propaganda.”
Mydlach says his role changed from that of security guard to caretaker, “in all the undignified matters concerning his debilitating condition … including personal care cleaning, bathing and various bathroom duties.”
Though I can’t speak to the alleged mistreatment of Mr. Horn, I do have to wonder about Mydlach’s competency as a bodyguard. Not only was he incapable of saving Roy from a vicious tiger attack, but he was also proven to be useless when it came to stopping a drive-by shooting carried out by a former Oakland Raiders placekicker.
If you’re so inclined, here’s a trip down memory lane with S&R.
Admittedly, not the same Arbuckle, but I couldn’t resist.
Not only is the baseball season over, but we’ll have to wait another 5 months before the Chicago Sun-Times’ Jay Mariotti (above) pens another column suggesting Ozzie Guillen isn’t fit to manage.
A Chicago team, I’ve always said, finally will win it all when we least expect it. We expected the Cubs to win in 2003 because they had the requisite big names. But they collapsed when the heat was on, as opposed to the Sox, who recovered and conquered October like few teams in baseball history. Their 11-1 postseason record matches the 1999 Yankees’ as the best record in the division-series era and ranks in the modern era behind only the 1976 Big Red Machine, which went 7-0. Dating back to those nervous nights in Detroit, one full month ago, the Sox lost one game.
What they did, thanks to the feisty leadership of Guillen and foresight of Williams, was write a new blueprint on how baseball might be played in the post-steroids era. They wanted selfless players and didn’t care where they came from — America, Japan, Venezuela, Cuba, Puerto Rico. With everyone obeying and respecting the yakkety Guillen like some cult figure, the overhaul worked like few we’ve seen.
There was one star, Paul Konerko, and a Mount Soxmore rotation. Otherwise, solid players fulfilled roles splendidly and played smallball, bigball, whatever was needed — but always smartball. If you had told me Jermaine Dye, Magglio Ordonez’s marginally received replacement, would be Series MVP, I’d have giggled loudly.
Apparently, some great relief pitching by both teams and game-saving (at the time) DP’s started by Brad Ausmus and Morgan Ensberg don’t count for much. In the opinon of ESPN’s Buster Olney, Tuesday night’s marathon was “just awful baseball”.
The actual baseball was terrible, with the pitchers dominating hitters in a way you rarely see except in games when some of the players haven’t advanced through puberty yet.
To say that the Astros’ hitting was ineffective would be like suggesting that Enron had an accounting problem. The Houston batters — seemingly pressing to the point of being numb — rarely even hit the ball hard. Some of that was due to the stuff of Bobby Jenks and the guile of Orlando Hernandez, but there were multiple situations in which all the Astros needed was a groundball of 100 feet, a fly ball of 250 feet. Anything. Houston had one hit in its last 33 at-bats. It wasn’t as if the White Sox fielders were diving all over the place and making great plays, the way they did against the Red Sox in the first round. If they had, the game could have been a classic. The Astros just generated a lot of bad at-bats. It was if the fans at Minute Maid Park weren’t sure how to react. The fans stood, inning after inning, cheering and then going quiet, time and again.
The writers in the press box were tortured, as well. Deadline after deadline passed and as time went on, the number of writers standing at their computers grew, many of them having been told that the last run of their newspapers had begun, and there was no chance to get their stories in the morning paper. But then, nobody was really complaining. Unless you were writing for the papers in Chicago and Houston, there really wasn’t much compelling in Game 3, even as the list of broken records — most pitchers used, longest game by time, etc. — lengthened.
The instant that Blum’s homer cleared the right field fence, the noise made by the 30 guys in the White Sox dugout hovered over all of them.
So there you have it. A battle between the AL and NL champs — with both clubs working their way out of jams right until the very end — actually sucked, because journalists were missing their deadlines (indeed, the press area in the left field grandstand had cleared out well before the 14th inning — nice seats, too). If the Astros struggled to execute against the likes of El Duque and Jenks, well, should a World Series hopeful really have their season riding on Orlando Palmiero? You could say the same of Geoff Blum, really.
Anyhow, this game was so boring that “SportsCenter” devoted its entire opening 10 minutes Wednesday night to recapping the key plays — highlights they’re usually able to cram into a few minutes, max.
Local radio in these parts was dominated by guys whose programs didn’t start until 3pm, complaining about how hard it was to stay up. Which is a nice twist for a future Phil Mushnick column ; the real problem causing games to run late isn’t MLB’s corporate greed. Rather, it’s the Houston Astros’ inability to score any runs.
I suppose this means fuck off, Pigbag, then.
” I’ll be, I’ll be there/And just before I hit the bar/With the ghost of Rodney Marsh in his pre-smug pundit days/ Before he sold Rangers down the Swanee/With Gerry Francis’s offshore money/ It’s a toss-up between Mick Jones/And a consortium from the Middle Eastern equivalent of Barrett Homes /I’ll be, I’ll be there/With blue and white ticker tape in my hair/Up the Rs/Up the Rs/Up the Rs/What a life on Mars”.
(Iain Dowie reacts to the news that he’s not mentioned in Pete Doherty’s new song. Gerry Francis, right, doesn’t get off so easy.)
…and by that, I don’t mean he failed to reach a ground ball 10 feet to his left.
White Sox 1, Astros 0
More on this finale later tonight. For now, Juan Uribe’s running catch of Chris Burke’s 9th inning foul ball stands as the defensive play of the series. And what the heck is Don Nelson doing behind the Houston dugout? (He’s got every right to be there, mind you, it’s just a little disconcerting.)
After the Astros managed to go their final 15 innings without scoring a run (and hitless in their final 29 at bats), I’d really like to hear from everyone who still thinks they didn’t need Carlos Beltran.
Backe and Garcia (above, right) were each fantastic. Losing pitcher Brad Lidge, given no margin for error made exactly two mistakes — the sinker that wasn’t to Willie Harris, and allowing a dribbler through the infield to eventual MVP Jermaine Dye. It would really be shame to continue hearing how Lidge has crumbled — under normal circumstances, he wouldn’t have even been out there in such a situation.
Fox’s failure to turn the microphone over to Don Cooper the second this one ended is their loss. Taking nothing away from Ozzie, Chicago’s pitching coach is a riot.
I’m gonna let Tivo weave it’s pause-worthy magic while running an errand — I sincerely hope this tremendous victory brings great joy to our White Sox supporting friends, as well as providing Carl Everett with the national TV platform he’s long deserved to expouse his unique theories on, well, everything.
Addendum : XM’s Home Plate Channel is once again, right on top of the story. When Paul Konerko squeezed Uribe’s assist to clinch the first White Sox championship in 88 years, who amongst us didn’t wonder “How must this feel compared to what Rob Dibble went through when the Reds swept the A’s in 1990?”
Really, any ham and egg media outlet can resort to the most obvious postgame angles — interviewing Guillen, Dye, Jenks, Konerko, Phil Garner, Jeff Bagwell’s ex-wife, etc. But it take real visionaries to allow Dibs to wax nostalgic about the Reds visiting McDonalds when Marge Schott was too cheap to throw a party. If only Kevin Kennedy hadn’t been occupied with his Fox TV duties, he could’ve compared Guillen’s achievement with what it was like to manage in a Triple-A All-Star Game.
Comcast’s postgame coverage featured a tearful embrace between Cliff Politte and Journey’s Steve Perry. I realize that Styx is guilty of some terrible crimes against music, but this is a sad affront by any reasonable measure.
The Blue Jays are looking to hire a new manager for their Eastern League affiliate New Hampshire Fisher Cats, and the Union-Leader’s Kevin Gray proposes that Toronto consider former Red Sox 3B and manager Butch Hobson.
Hobson (above) managed the past six seasons for the Nashua Pride , not to mention those three years with the Boston Red Sox from 1992-94 , and he’s very much interested in the Double-A vacancy at Manchester.
With the Pride ownership seeking to join the short-season Canadian-American Association next season year, Hobson, a Nashua resident, would love to join the Blue Jays organization up the road. Former Fisher Cats manager Mike Basso was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse earlier this week.
It wouldn’t be Hobson’s first foray into affiliated minor league baseball. He managed Triple-A Pawtucket leading up to his position as manager of the Red Sox. He was later named manager of the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Not only is Hobson qualified, he believes he could be a perfect fit with the Fishers. Dick Scott, the Toronto farm director conducting a search to replace Basso, will be getting a phone call from Hobson today.
“Developing talent and instilling a winning attitude on and off the field is what organizations expect and demand. I know I’m good at that,” said Hobson, who guided the Pride to the 2000 Atlantic League championship. “I would like for them to consider me. I’m experienced enough, and I think my resume speaks enough for itself.”
Unmentioned by Hobson or Gray is that said resume includes a 1996 termination by Wilkes-Barre after Hobson was arrested upon receiving a Fed Ex package filled with cocaine. While Hobson certainly doesn’t deserve to be blackballed by MLB-affiliated clubs as a result, this is hardly an irrelevent point to raise, especially if you’re essentially saying “why won’t someone hire this guy?”
At least that’s what I learned from Wally Backman’s Online Journalism School.
In other Eastern League news, Sidearm Delivery reports that the Norwich Navigators have changed their name to the Connecticut Defenders. Not to be outdone, the Atlantic League’s Bridgeport Bluefish are mulling a change to the Bridgeport Bunnybrains.
Mr. Historian writes,
Well, we™ve all been curious who the first high-profile athlete to announce that they™re gay would be, and now that Houston Comets MVP Sheryl Swoopes has done it, well, we guess we™re still kind of waiting.
High profile enough for you, Will?
Mets 1B Doug Mientkiewicz, as quoted in this morning’s Minneapolis Star Tribune by Patrick Reusse. (link courtesy Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)
The New York Mets have an option on Doug Mientkiewicz that would pay the first baseman $4 million next season.
“I don’t why they would pick up my option, but if they do, I might quit,” he said. “I’m serious. I don’t want to be back there.”
The Mets must announce a decision within three days of the end of he World Series. No doubt, they will elect to pay Mientkiewicz a $450,000 buyout and make him a free agent.
He said his preference would be to return to the Twins, who aren’t as solid with Justin Morneau at first base as everyone figured when Mientkiewicz was shipped to Boston on July 31, 2003.
“People think Gardy [manager Ron Gardenhire] and I have a big problem,” Mientkiewicz said. “Nothing could be further from the truth. He’s like an older brother to me. We get mad, yell some, but it’s because we’re both competitive and emotional.
“I always thought Minnesota was a great place to play. After a year with the Mets, an organization that doesn’t have a clue, I know that for sure.”
Mientkiewicz’ 2005 looks something like this :
275 AB’s 36 runs, 66 hits, 13 doubles, 11 HR’s, 29 RBI’s, .240 BA, .322 OBP, .407 slugging percentage. Clearly, the Mets were out of their minds when they benched the 31 year old down the stretch in favor of Mike Jacobs (11 HR’s, 23 RBI’s, 1.085 OPS in 100 at bats).
Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, on Phil Garner’s bitch-fest following Houston’s Game 3 defeat.
What does their manager, Phil Garner (above), do in the first moments after the White Sox punched them in the gut by beating them in the 14th inning of Game 3, 7-5?
He rips his team.
Beautiful. Mind you, the guy says nothing to his team after the game. But he does march into the official interview room and drop these bombs for the media:
“Absolute rotten hitting.”
“We might have played 40 innings and it didn’t look like we were going to get a runner across the bag.”
“It’s embarrassing to play like this in front of our hometown.”
“I’m really ticked off.”
Way to bail on your team, Mr. Manager.
Not once did he credit the Chicago pitchers, especially the relievers, for holding his hitters to a 1-for-33 showing after Jason Lane hit his home run that wasn’t in the fourth inning. (The umpires blew another call. Please label it as evidence No. 463 that the commissioner of baseball needs to conduct a full review of postseason umpire assignments as soon as this World Series is over.)
Not once did the manager accept any blame or responsibility himself. But remember, this is a guy who showed up Brad Ausmus in the 10th inning by throwing a public fit when Ausmus flied out on a pitch when Orlando Palmeiro had second base stolen. And it’s the same guy who showed up his entire team by flinging a chair against the dugout wall when Geoff Blum hit his game-breaking home run in the 14th.
Way to show you’re in control, skipper.
The NY Daily News’ Frank Isola reports that New York and Portland are discussing the former acquiring Ruben Patterson and/or coach-killer Darius Miles. The Blazers want contracts that are coming off the books ; the Knicks have offered Malik Rose.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Sekou Smith reports on an actual interesting moment or two during Monday’s Heat/Hawks exhbition.
Keep an eye on Esteban Batista (above, left). El Toro (as he™s been nicknamed by members of the Hawks training staff) got under the skin of Heat forward Antoine Walker. It got so bad that they traded ˜bows and barbs before game™s end, with Walker scalding the Hawks bench for cheering Batista on (œThis guy™s a bum Walker said. He later apologized to Hawks coach Mike Woodson.
But Batista™s relentlessness around the basket and his willingness to mix it up with anyone in his way is what will keep him in the rotation and in his coach™s good graces.
From the NY Post’s Dan Martin,
Fedor Fedorov (hiding in the back, above) said he doesn’t know why he hasn’t been able to make any headway in the NHL.
The 24-year-old brother of All-Star Sergei Fedorov was recalled from Hartford of the AHL yesterday and said that regardless of the reason he has appeared in only 15 games in the league, he is ready to make an impact.
“My heels are against the wall,” Fedorov said after his first practice with the Rangers. “I haven’t played a lot at all.”
As for why Fedorov has been stymied in his NHL career thus far, Brushback can fill you in better than I.
They just won’t leave Pierzynski alone, will they?
That’s the question posed by Ben Schwartz, who writes
At least I can stop taking Parrothead Day at Wrigley so personally, but I believe this fairly falls under the heading “Bad For Baseball.”
From the Associated Press :
Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry, expressing frustration Tuesday with the Falcons’ slumping performance, attributed the latest loss in part to No. 20 TCU’s having more black players who “can run very, very well.”
DeBerry (above), in his 22nd year at the Air Force Academy, first mentioned the academy’s lack of minority players compared to other schools while talking to reporters Monday.
He said Air Force needed to recruit faster players. “We were looking at things, like you don’t see many minority athletes in our program,” DeBerry told The Gazette of Colorado Springs.
When questioned about the remarks during his weekly luncheon Tuesday, the coach didn’t hesitate to elaborate.
“It just seems to be that way, that Afro-American kids can run very, very well. That doesn’t mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can’t run, but it’s very obvious to me they run extremely well,” DeBerry said in remarks first broadcast Tuesday night by KWGN-TV in Denver.
I don’t have much to add except that when and if DeBerry is terminated, perhaps Paul Hornung won’t be the first guy interviewed.
In the wake of Craig Biggio’s missus getting slapped in Chicago, former Astros manager/current team shill Larry Dierker decries the lack of decorum amongst today’s fans (mostly those from Chicago).
After Game 2, I was on a platform under a tent, doing a stand-up for Channel 11 sports with Giff Nielsen when the game ended with Scott Podsednik’s walkoff homer.
Some of the fans who exited the stadium set up a chant behind us, saying: “Houston sucks, Houston sucks.”
I turned to Giff when we were off the air and said, “Why can’t they say, ‘We’re No. 1,’ or ‘Go Sox,’ or something like that instead? Why would they rather put someone down than lift someone up?”
When I encountered Sox fans taunting the Astros, I just smiled at them and said, “Have a nice winter.”
I can, however, report that the Astros fans are a peaceful, polite lot, many of whom sought to beat the traffic last night when the game hit extra innings. And they’re an observant bunch, too, like the fellow a row behind me who was screaming “Wandy, what’s your fucking problem?” when Esquivel Astacio was laboring through the 14th inning.
White Sox 7, Astros 5 (14 innings)
No more complaints about the standing room ticket from this corner — plenty of Houston’s high rollers headed for the exits ’round midnight, so I was fortunate to catch the finale from somewhere near the posh pit.
More about this one after I wake up, but suffice to say somebody was seriously outmanaged Tuesday night, and it wasn’t Ozzie.
Chances are, Houston was gonna lose this Series either way, but you can spend all winter wondering why Phil Garner stuck with Roy Oswalt in the 5th inning. Much as we can wonder how a consumate pro like Craig Biggio couldn’t manage to get a bunt down.
Though Guillen’s employ of Dustin Hermanson in the bottom of the 8th seemed questionable (doubly so after Hermanson blew the save), it’s quite a luxury when the last available pitcher out of your bullpen is named Mark Buehlre (as opposed to, say, Ezequiel Astacio).
Heck of a DP turned by Ensberg at the top of the 14th — at that moment, I was pretty certain Houston would find a way to win this one.
White Sox 5, Astros 5 (bottom of the 13th)
As this is now the longest World Series game in history, I would like to donate what’s left of my brain to the National Baseball Hall Of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown, NY.
Not only am I a ridicuously nice guy, but I’m unselfish, too.
I’m pretty sure I just saw Charlie Kerfeld warming up in the Astros bullpen.
White Sox 5, Astros 4 (top of the 6th)
This all-thumbs entry comes to you from Minute Maid’s charmless 9 Amigos restaurant (all the ambience of a Chilli’s with much higher ceilings). You have no idea how many dishes I’m supposed to wash to cover the costs of a standing room ticket (and I haven’t even mentioned who I’m standing on).
A little fan interference indicates that perhaps the cheap breaks are swinging the other way…though I did type that before the White Sox batted around in the 5th.
Craig Biggio is on pace to nicely avenge his wife’s slapping (if only Julio Lugo was still here to say the same), and while Mushnick nailed the Chuck Norris/Jeff Bagwell seperated-at-birth thing yesterday, I humbly submit Chris Burke and Bill Pulsipher.
Though Nolan Ryan put quite a charge into this well-heeled crowd when tossing the ceremonial first pitch, I’d like to think that J.R. Richard just hadn’t checked his voice mail.
It’s time to check Joe Crede’s urine. Not that I think he’s on something, mind you. Just trying to come up with a fun science experiment for Chris Myers while he’s killing time.
Seriously, folks, Houston’s an awesome city. All kinds of great things to do here. For instance, drive to Austin.
Thanks to David Roth for the link to the story of the day, but excuse me if i’m not blown away. Didn’t the Last Poets have a song about Jim Leyritz once upon a time?
From the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman.
Is the Giants’ offensive philosophy based on football or economics?
While discussing Tom Coughlin’s use (or lack thereof) of a running game, Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer indicated it is essential to follow the money. And in the case of Tiki Barber, Glazer said, yardage is not the only thing at stake when he carries the ball.
“If he (Barber) doesn’t rush for a certain number of yards this year, then his salary next year will drop anywhere from $500,000 to $1.2 million,” Glazer said on Fox’s “NFL Sunday.”
Glazer said Barber’s contract has a similar clause for 2006. “If Tiki fails to reach 900-1,250 yards he would have to give the Giants back anywhere from $800,000 to $1.5 million,” Glazer added.
Despite their thrilling 24-23 win over Denver, the Giants’ reluctance to run the football was evident and highlighted on CBS’ telecast.
After the Giants went three-and-out with 2:24 left in the third quarter, a clearly agitated Phil Simms said: “Run the football. You have to keep the defense honest.”
So, when you hear Glazer’s report, which no one denied, questions follow.
Is pressure coming down from the top?
Would Giants GM/Media Darling Ernie Accorsi be consumed enough by the bottom line that he would keep the ball out of Barber’s hands to whack his salary?
Would the Giants improperly use Barber, who was drafted by the late George Young, to collect from the running back later? Hey, for an organization as profitable as the Giants, $1.5 mil is chump change. So, Accorsi would not nickel and dime Barber, would he?
Though the paucity of Tiki touches earlier in the game is a fair point, it’s pretty obvious the Giants are gonna be passing when trailing by a sizeable margin late in the day.
Finally, a chance to use that headline. Thank you, Patty Biggio (and thanks to Soft Hands for the link).
Back in Houston, where Patty Biggio is active in local charities, news of the attack infuriated Astros fans who vented on the team’s Web blog, some citing past violence at the Cell, including a 2002 incident where a fan attacked a coach and a fan assault on an umpire in 2003.
“I hate to say it but it seems to be a theme for that stadium,” wrote one fan. Said another, “I just don’t see ANY Astros fan pulling that kind of stunt. A lot more class than that down [here].”
“White Sox fans are lower class of people,” said one blogger. “Seriously. The fact of the matter is [U.S. Cellular Field] is not a safe place to bring your family to see a ballgame.”
White Sox spokesperson Scott Reifert disputed that, describing the incident as the work of “one idiot.”
Sox manager Ozzie Guillen apologized to Craig Biggio. “I told the police, don’t put him in jail, bring him to me in the dugout,” Guillen said.
President of the New Jersey chapter for the CMA, Brian Turner forwards the following message from country superstar Chris Cagle,
To All My Loyal Music Fans:
“As many of you are aware, I had been anxiously awaiting the addition of a new baby to my life. The baby has been born and both mother and child are in good health. Since the birth, however, we have discovered that biologically, the child is not mine.
As excited as I was about becoming a new father, my disappointment is equally as strong. So out of respect for all that are involved, please allow this situation to remain private and know that I will not be commenting further on this very personal matter. I’m thanking you in advance for your kind cooperation and understanding.”